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Employee's rights under WA state employment law for exempt and non exempt employees, salary based on hours worked

Yakima, WA |

In WA State, must a person's salary be based on a certain number of hours? My employer regularly expects many employees to work more than 40 hours per week with no comp time, overtime pay, or compensation of any kind. They explain, "This is not just a 40 hour a week job." Normally interpreted that during heavy work load times, employees will put in the extra effort. But is not generally expected to mean ALL the time on a regular basis. It seems this is grossly taken advantage of. Is it really legal for a company to pay you a salary for unlimited and unspecified expected hours? Some are working 60+ hours a week for weeks on end. Some work on weekends extra hours, and then are expected to claim PTO hours for a 2 hour doctors appointment during the week. Seems like something illegal must be going on here, but I don't have proof.

Additional info on this: This is a private sector exempt job (or jobs). So the company is not required to pay overtime, and I don't believe a union could be formed as suggested below, but I believe the company may be stretching the limits and taking advantage of the fact that they don't have to pay OT. They are short-staffing at times, or putting unreasonable pressure and workload, which 'causes excess overtime. I have to wonder if the law would really support this practice. Or if they are taking advantage of grey areas in the law. I read this: On point #7, it says that for a partial day off, the employer cannot deduct pay. But can they require PTO to be used for that partial day? And is denial of comptime when OT is in excess really lawful? As alluded to above, we have had people work 10-20 hours excess one week, and turn around the next week and have to claim PTO on a 2 hour doctor's appointment.

Attorney Answers 1


One of the first steps likely is to determine whether the jobs require overtime pay. You can look over the information provided by WA Labor & Industries to see whether overtime pay is required: .

If no overtime paid is required and at least the minimum wage is paid for all time worked, the employer likely can work the employee without additional pay for as many hours as the employee is willing to be worked (except certain industries are regulated as to the number of hours a person may work in a certain period).

There may be strength in number. The employees can band together informally or formally (by joining or forming a union) and demand better working conditions.

Filing complaints with L&I is free. If after reviewing L&I's information, you feel that the employer is doing something wrong, you can file a complaint with L&I. Most employers in WA are regulated by L&I.

You can review your facts and options with an attorney.

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